Dance, Dance, Dance
by Mitchell Ditkoff
The word in our soul wakes,
We can dance on forever
And nothing else matters
So please dance, dance, dance …
Ten thousand premies stand in the rent-free Tucson Community Center begging Guru Maharaj Ji to dance. Ten thousand lovers of the living Lord stand on the edge of themselves in the same hall which next week will house the Rolling Stones. People will be standing then too. But for different reasons …
For this is Guru Puja. A time for premies to come together and worship the One who gave them life. A time for true devotion.
Who else but Guru Maharaj Ji could inspire a premie to drive all night through the desert? Who else could fuel us on coffee and nectar? Who else could receive the lifetimes of love stored in our cells?
But how to describe it? I mean, if Valmiki couldn't do it in the 803 pages of the Ramayana, if Oral Roberts couldn't do it on channel 9, how in the world am I gonna do it - DLM #1427913, who for years thought surrender meant letting his roommate use the last of the bleu cheese dressing …
* * *
Walking into the satsang hall a day before the festival, I am struck with my first dilemma: How do you cover infinity? The answer, like the sure hand of a front-stage security guard, comes quick. You don't. It covers you. No way can I dip my teaspoon of perception into the river of Grace and come up with anything other than mind. And besides, who cares about the parts when the whole is so much greater. Does anyone remember the color of Jesus' sandals? The name of his donkey? What he ate for lunch on the day he was crucified?
Falling for tricks easily, still I scan the hall for a story … highlights … an angle … Howard Cosell as devotee … And yet, wherever I look I see only one thing: Guru Maharaj Ji's love. His perfect circle has no angle, no point of entry. You're either in it or you're not. Everything is highlight.
Yet I go on the grand tour just the same. I see the house beneath the stage. I see the orchids imported from Florida. I see the potatoes we will be eating for lunch tomorrow. I see what goes into making Guru Puja ready for Maharaj Ji.
That's it folks. Plain and simple. That's all he wants and that's all we have to give. Love. It's what Guru Puja's all about.
Sitting down to let it sink in, I feel a sharp pain in my left thigh. One of my myriad passes is sticking me like some discount acupuncture treatment. Taking it (and the others) out of my pocket, I hold them in my hand. Four aces? Not quite … Let's see. I have a Service Pass … Divine Times Pass … Reserved Seating … Darshan Recovery … God, with this hand I could go just about anywhere
… And yet where I really want to go, no pass will take me. No pass and no three-piece suit. No Denver connection. No blown-dry hair. Nothing. Only Grace. That's all I have. That's all I'll ever have… .
There's a definite risk in sharing experience - be it at a festival, in meditation, or on line at the food stamp office. It's assuming that what we're experiencing is the same for everyone. The ultimate ego. I represent everyone. And yet, behind the particulars, behind the lost wallets, and the desk clerks who can't seem to find your reservation, lies the common denominator - what Guru Maharaj Ji asks from us all: surrender, patience, perseverance, obedience, and a sense of humor to make Charlie Chaplin look like Edgar Allen Poe out of gas on the New Jersey Turnpike.
But the show must go on. And so I find myself wandering through the registration line on the first day of the festival, very thirsty and spotting an aspirant I know with a can of orange juice.
"When does it begin?" he asks.
"When does what begin?" I reply, looking him in the juice.
"The festival. Guru Puja."
"Brother-ji, it's already begun …"
And all around us, beneath a sun that seems to be burning a hole through the sky, the million-ring circus of Dr. Maharaj Ji continues … The Holy Name T-shirts. The medallions from Peru. The Tucson fruit vendor trying to send his kid to college. The Indian devotees in golf hats and Foster Grants … Ah, Guru Puja! Where else could 500 people on the brink of heat exhaustion be so incredibly happy?
Hot, tired, and with absolutely no desire to buy a bumper sticker, I enter the hall. It is cool. Very cool. I hear music. I head for my seat. But my seat is not there. My reserved seat is not there and no one knows where it is!
"Stage construction's behind. The carpenters had a lot of satsang," someone informs me. I am disappointed. Disappointed like a child discovering his Hostess Twinkie is bare on the inside. But it doesn't last long. Why get into it? Not only am I n the same planet with the erfect Master. I'm in the same city …
Front stage, the action is intense. Go-fors, painters, sound men, security, initiators, and mothers in search of small children all mingle together in the space usually reserved for the people with the right colored passes. Even with a program you can't tell the players.
"Hey, what's going on?" laments the sister to my left. "It was supposed to start 45 minutes ago."
It's clear now that only one thing is happening. Only one thing is ever happening. Guru Puja. Love for the Master. Not on the half-finished stage. Not on the walkie talkies. But in the heart … Here … Now
August, 1978 3
… Whoever you happen to be at the time.
Two Convention Bureau officials pass by, amazed at how much has been constructed in such a short time. An entire house for Maharaj Ji for just three days? "We see it happening," one of them says, "but we don't know who's doing it."
* * *
It's 3:00 and still the doors haven't opened. Where's Joe Anctil giving the latest announcements? Where's One Foundation? Where's all the Bolie Shris? Where's the illusion???
Like a New Yorker in the 53rd day of a garbage strike, the premie to my left pleads for satsang. I am struck dumb … silent … I cannot speak - for satsang isn't Dial-APrayer, a vaudeville routine, or a bedtime story to keep the boogyman away. It's the free flow of grace. It's …
Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai!
Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai!!!!!!
Bolie Shri Satgurudev Maharaj Ki Jai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Initiator Stuart McDougall is standing before us. He pranams to the video camera (Maharaj Ji is watching), rises, closes his eyes, and begins: "Pranam Maharaj Ji. Thank you … It's so beautiful to know why we're here … and that's to be a devotee of Guru Maharaj Ji … and open this life completely to him … and only live for him …"
And so I listen … Ignore " the people I know, ignore the people I would like to know, the service I wasn't asked to do, the children, the Nectarel, the new Elan Vital … and all the rest of the paraphernalia of the Kingdom of Heaven …
Ah satsang. Sweet, sweet, satsang.
So there I (we) am, sitting in my (our) seat, trying not to wait for Guru Maharaj Ji to come, knowing he's everywhere, yet somehow noticing that despite his omnipresence, he most definitely is not sitting in his chair.
And then, quite simply, he appears. Sits. And bows his head. Almost on cue I begin to nod out. Lean to one side. Tilt.
Like my father home from a 12-hour day and watching Gunsmoke. I can't believe it. No, this can't be! I bite my lip. I pull the hairs on my wrist. I pinch my own cheeks. Please Maharaj Ji, don't let me fall asleep now. I've come so far to be with you, to do Puja, to receive what you have to give … and whatever you have to withhold. Please don't let me fall asleep now …
"… we have a well and we are thirsty, but we don't have any hands. Our hands are missing. So we see the water and we feel the thirst. Right? But there is no way we'll be able to get the water until somebody is there … Because, ourselves, there is nothing we can do about it … But that person who stays there, who stands there, and then helps this person out to get the water, he can't do anything either if that person isn't there! You know what I'm trying to say?"
Through an Act of God I manage to hear, to go past that part of myself wanting to fall asleep and wake in another lifetime the son of a very rich man …
"… only a few people get to really appreciate that feeling of being a devotee, of being Guru Maharaj Ji's, of being saved, because only a very few people in fact really put that effort through …"
Again I am dazed in a way I can never comprehend. Punched, coddled, kicked, caressed, tickled, carried, pushed, blasted, bombed, and buoyed … Satsang over, I stagger into the Arizona night, not having the vaguest idea why I love him so, why I'd travel any place, anytime, would crawl on my stomach (or yours if it would help) just to get the chance to kiss his lotus feet.
I love him. That's all I know.
* * *
There is something about waking up on darshan day which nobody but a premie can ever hope to understand. Unlike Christmas morning, it's not us opening presents. But
4 Divine Times
the presence opening us. Today is the day. The peak of Puja. The day when the human race finally stops and catches its breath. And yet, I never feel ready. Never have. And probably never will.
Er … just a few minutes more, Lord. Let me just really get into Holy Name. Let me just cruise around Tucson for the perfect gift I didn't get you at home. Let me just check and see that my service is covered. Let me …
Forget it. Drop it. None of it matters. What makes a premie think he's supposed to be together? If we're too "together" there'd be no cracks through which he could enter.
And so I find myself on an escalator. The kind I used to ride with my mother in Bloomingdale's. Only this one goes to the feet of the Master. And all I have to do is remember Holy Name …
"Watch your step," someone warns as the metal stairs disappear into the floor. But more concerned with his feet than mine I stumble into the Tucson afternoon … Ahead … the Little Theatre. What a perfect place for the play of Lord and devotee to further `unfold … Eyes down, breathing slowly, I continue to walk … noticing little … Not a very good reporter at all … The color of the rug, the length of the tunnel, the number of altars and the shape of the canopy all escape
And then … I see him … or … he sees me … He looks with a look that is no look. I cannot explain it. It has no recognizable attribute … It is blank, a sky with no clouds … No definition. No shape. No duration … I cannot tell when it starts and cannot tell when it stops … If infinity had an eye maybe that would explain it. Or a plug being pulled somewhere in space with all the stars being sucked into him … Yet so undramatic. So natural. Simple as a child's gaze, who, when turning away need not explain it … The look of the Lord. The look of Guru Maharaj Ji.
Not wanting to see anything else than what I've just been seen by, I am led to an inner chamber. Air is cool here.
Breathing is easy. And I can hear darshan music everywhere … everywhere here … air … ah … not meditating … being meditated … not breathing … being breathed … not celebrating Guru Puja … being celebrated …
In time I stand and walk, remembering my service. The challenge is clear. Can I stay in this place and move at the same time? Babies, old friends, announcements, yogurt, and a bhajan sung in a key unfamiliar to the Western world greet me back at the hall. Yet it's all o.k. It's Guru Maharaj Ji's play and I'm just glad to be in it.
Entering my seat like a hot bath and soaking all of it in, I am suddenly struck with a thought. Where is my notebook? My college ruled 5x73/4 blue spiral notebook! Where is it! This isn't funny. I have to do service …
Greeted at the door of the Little Theatre (where I left it) by a sister from Chicago, I open my mouth. But it is she who speaks. "Oh good, we're so glad you're here. We need another brother to help carry some of the passed-out ones to the hall. Could you grab that sister's head?"
Tucson, Arizona, July 15, 1978
Strange. I come for my notes, I leave carrying out a gone-beyond premie. Subtle it's not. It's the Word, not words. This is what Guru Puja's all about. The Word made flesh. Don't worry about bringing souvenirs back from the Kingdom of Heaven. If it's bigger than the eye of a needle it ain't gonna fit anyway …
* * *
I could go on, but I won't - for no matter how many scenes are described we'd end up back in the same place. Here. Here at the feet of our Lord. Here in the heart of his play. Here in his Holy Name - where forever we are born to be. The "realizations," of course, keep coming. But they are not supposed to be saved. We are.
So let it roll on, let it unfold, allow the One who gave you life to take it … and give it back more beautiful than ever.
Thank you, Maharaj Ji. Thank you for Guru Puja. May it never end …
August, 1978 5